*Bouhammer NOTE- The blog below is an email I got from Guest Blogger Mike T. He highlights some great points here and I felt this really needed to be a blog entry in itself. I respect his difference in opinion with my blog entry HERE, and in rebuttal I will write in comment to this blog entry once it is posted.*
Over the past five months or so and many conversations on the phone while I was home on leave we have found a common ground to agree on about this war. For the first time I sat and stared at your last post and thought very hard about my response. I will say that I have to disagree with you on the duration time frame. Throughout the course of these wars we have seen different ideas and plans succeed and fail. What we are dealing with now is what many call the Security/Infrastructure Investment Problem.
What this problem is has multiple prongs within itself, let me explain. Everyone knows without security, infrastructure which includes schools, bridges and roads, free markets, civil services, and a multitude of other daily life necessities are either loss completely or are hampered in a very serious way. Without investment from within the country or outside interests, Afghanistan will continue to harvest poppy for the world. They have to; itâ€™s their only true exportation that secures income. So how we do we accomplish both? How do we keep continuity of the unit in its respective AOR? How do we keep pressure on the enemy while building the infrastructure? These are hard questions to answer let along the other hundred or so that are right behind them.
I have looked at what I will simply call the Troy Structural Plan; I figured it needed an official name to it! Let it be known I do like some of your ideas, but overall I think we are missing some key ingredients. Socially our country could not or will not tolerate this. It is nice to hear about recruitment amongst the services, but if you look closely at the numbers, somehow every service either hit its mark or scored at 101% for the quarter, amazing how every service except the Marines had the same numbers. The generation behind me has been listening to anti-war slogans and agendas since day one. This started almost 5 years ago for Iraq and even though not so much for us here in Afghanistan, they are leaping out of their cars to the recruiter stations. This generation has been blasted with what I like to call the â€œMe Syndromeâ€, what is it in for me, why would I go there if my own country cannot fix its own problems, or even the fact that our own Senators and Congressmen have spoken to them telling them that if they study harder they wonâ€™t have to go to Iraq. They believe in instant gratification, I can say this; I am part of that generation.
Another hampering factor in the plan, the Army has come up with the Reset and Stabilization Period Programs that allow re-allocation of manpower and equipment. This process usually takes up to one year, now look at this closely and you will see at least three major contractors who help the Army along with this. If we are to prolong tours with the equipment I can tell you that FSRâ€™s (Field Service Reps) will be losing money left and right since those units will stay in country. General Motors earns millions to help â€œresetâ€ units that have returned, they arenâ€™t going to want to lose that money. We have big business to deal with, oh and just a tidbit, we have one FSR for our entire RSIC here. That might indicate they arenâ€™t big fans of being downrange.
In order to have these units stay here, the biggest problem that needs to be solved is the Rules Of Engagement. Back in WWII and even the earliest points of Vietnam, the ROEâ€™s served to help the soldier, not hinder him. You could be four major divisions in here, but if the ROEâ€™s do not change, what is the difference? There was no such thing as collateral damage until the middle of Vietnam, more or less. Now we come 1000 meters to a mosque or a village and a quarter inch of shrapnel hits something we are paying thousands of dollars. You have entire BCTâ€™s running through the battle space tearing the areas up hunting for bad guyâ€™s commanders are going to be standing tall in front of some stars. The thought process here and even in Iraq is fight with white gloves on, take it to the enemy but donâ€™t do to much damage.
You spoke of understanding from the families of soldiers and how on active duty we are soldiers 24-7, I agree with that. In this day in age, families are tired of disruption as well, but what is to say that being gone 3 years compared to 15 months doesnâ€™t do any less damage, matter of fact probably more. We all think of the GIâ€™s returning home after WWII triumphantly with their ladies waiting for them, realistically it wasnâ€™t like that. It is now known that many came home to nothing, wives got tired of waiting, children welcomed home a stranger. Our communities were much stronger than then now and they still had a very rough time with it.
Humans need consistency that is a fact. Our technology allows us to keep real world time in communications with our families, but physically we have a new generation born with an absence. These children of the modern day warrior are no different than those of the WWII. Their fathers and mothers have been gone not once, but twice or more.
So what do we do about this problem? There is no true answer to solving the problems of this war in Afghanistan. We have decided to take on the burden and fight against an ideology. You no amount of soldiers can kill an idea. After seven years of this, reversing the course may cause more damage than good. Some side bar items for you.
All of the problems of trying to rotate people back every 12 months, millions of dollars in costs relating to moving personnel and equipment and not to mention the loss of intellectual knowledge of the battle-space and people in the battle-space- Reality is that the big business interest of moving personnel and equipment set up by contractors with the approval of Mr. Rumsfeld has allowed the Army to fall victim to dependency and by law to fulfill those contracts already established per contractor. Intelligence is lost on the battlefield everydayâ€¦I will not go into specifics because of OPSEC.
All of the problems of trying to rotate people back every 12 months, millions of dollars in costs relating to moving personnel and equipment and not to mention the loss of intellectual knowledge of the battle-space and people in the battle-space can all be avoided if we got off of the Vietnam 12 month and out mindset.
When I was active duty (for almost 10 years) I knew that was my job. I was a soldier full time, 24/7/365. I had nothing else on me schedule. I trained year around, all hours of the day and through holidays and weekends. When you are a soldier, you are a soldier all the time. If Desert Storm combat actually lasted 2 years instead of a few weeks, then I would have expected to stay, not rotate back. So why do we expect that now?
Reality is that during Desert Storm you still have the 7th ID, 24th ID, and even some parts of the 9th ID. Missing three major divisions now, including 2 Bomber Groups from the AF, three Aircraft Carriers from the Fleet, and multiple smaller SF unit types, that was a different time. Then you could draw on other forces, the Army was much larger and more conventionally structured. A soldier is a soldier, that has been stated, but lets face itâ€¦THEY ARE PEOPLE. After awhile people grow tired and the soldier has been failed at almost every corner in the past 7 years. From Walter Reed, the VA, and even by its own citizens. Our soldiers are more educated and in tune with the political atmosphere. We understand our mission but in the end, what is there to come home to? Homelessness is up by 30% amongst our newest veterans, 20% of suicides alone this year were by females, unemployment is the highest in the country for veterans. They have endured their tours and have performed exceptionally. Where are our ticker tape parades that Desert Storm and WWII got? The individual soldier is responsible for baring the weight of war upon their shoulders, but in time that weight becomes too much. Three year tours can not and will not help anymore than what we are doing now.
In all fairness to Troy, I do support his actions and writing though. Even though I do not agree with everything he says, he is trying to think outside the box for solutions for our men and women in uniform. I applaud him for that, unlike so many who are quarterbacking this thing from the Hill. So Troy, once again you have made a great argument in your writing! Keep on keeping on! – Mike (ETT MEMBER in Afghanistan/2nd tour)